Weekly Update 3/14/14
On Monday, March 10, 2014, we returned to the Gold Dome for the ninth week of the 2014 legislative session. In that week, we focused on reviewing, debating, and voting upon legislation that has already been passed by our counterparts in the Senate. Many pieces of the Senate’s legislation were reviewed by committees throughout the week. Other pieces of Senate legislation made it through the committee process and on to the House floor for a vote.
Two bills passed on the House floor this week will help ensure that the state of Georgia is prepared to deal with an ever-growing health concern among our aging population: Alzheimer’s disease. Currently more than 120,000 Georgians live with Alzheimer’s disease, but that number is expected to rise to 160,000 by 2025. Senate Resolution 746 addresses the growing illness by supporting the State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias. Developed by a multidisciplinary group of state leaders, the plan aims to improve dementia prevention and treatment. It also increases community services, family support, and public awareness for the disease. Alzheimer’s disease not only takes a toll on those who suffer from the illness, but also those around them; I hope that through SR 746, the state will embrace this plan to improve life for all those who have been affected by this horrible disease.
We passed another measure this week to improve the state’s elder care planning and future public policy for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. SB 292 would primarily serve to establish the Alzheimer’s Disease Registry, which will serve as a central database of all individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The confidential database is expected to provide researchers, doctors, and caregivers with a better understanding of the disease, its risk factors and its victims. The database will also provide us with a more accurate estimate of the number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s and the areas of the state with the most patients. This will allow us to pool our medical resources to better serve these areas with the most patients. Gaining a better understanding of the disease is the first step towards finding treatment, prevention and ultimately a cure.
In addition to approving legislation that would help to protect the health of our citizens, we also passed legislation to preserve our State’s natural resources and wildlife. Under the version of SB 213 that was passed by the House, the Director of the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) would be able to restrict farmers from drawing water from the Flint River basin during times of droughts. This bill will protect the aquatic wildlife that inhabits the river whose lives may be affected when individuals siphon water from the streams. This measure applies to only four streams in southwest Georgia and will only be used during a drought. Ultimately, SB 213 will ensure that efforts to protect wildlife are not thwarted by water siphoning.
Two other pieces of environmentally-conscious legislation, House Resolutions 689 and HR1185, were also passed last week. These resolutions encourage and enable schools to adopt environmentally responsible policies. HR 689 urges local school boards and schools to implement renewable energy systems; not only could renewable energy systems save taxpayers’ dollars, they could also provide valuable educational opportunities for our students. Furthermore, HR 1185 promotes energy conservation by encouraging state-wide participation in the Green Apple Day of Service, which will be held Saturday, September 27, 2014. This day of service provides parents, teachers, students, companies and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments through local service projects. Projects focus on efforts to protect clean air and conserve energy and resources. If you are interested in volunteering at your local schools for the Green Apple Day of Service, please visit www.mygreenapple.org to learn more.
Finally, this week the House also passed Senate Bill 288, which will improve transparency in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA). Senate Bill 288 prohibits those schools who accept funding through the “Quality Basic Education Act” from participating in interscholastic sports events if those schools have not released annual financial reports. This measure will prevent most Georgia public school students from participating in extra-curricular events in a non-transparent environment.
In addition to passing legislation last week, we also took some time to recognize an amazing student athlete, Aaron Murray. Murray was the quarterback for the University of Georgia from 2010 to 2013. In his time as UGA’s quarterback, he set 27 Georgia records and became the first player in Southeastern Conference history to have at least 3,000 passing yards in four consecutive seasons. He was also named the 2013 Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year, selected as a recipient of the National Scholar-Athlete Award, and voted the Vince Dooley Most Valuable Player by his teammates. In addition to being an outstanding football player, Murray has a deep commitment for serving the state of Georgia. He is highly involved with groups like Extra Special People (ESP), Camp Sunshine, Special Olympics, American Association of Adapted Sports Programs, Read Across America, Healing Place of Athens, and Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer. It was an honor to take a few moments to recognize such an accomplished young individual.
Our last legislative day of the 2014 session, scheduled for Thursday, March 20, is quickly approaching. Also known as Sine Die, this 40th legislative day will be our last opportunity to pass state legislation this year. As we move through this last legislative week, I encourage you to contact me with any concerns you might have regarding our state and its agencies. You can reach me at my state capitol office at 404-656-0109. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.